Why Behavioral Psychologists Love Progress Exams For Patient Retention
As we have discussed week after week in our retention series, I hope you would agree that the theme is that your retention is a reflection of your clarity. Clarity in what you do, why you do it and how you do it. It is also clarity that comes from you, your team and your patients as well. Progress Exams and Reports are easily one of the most important and powerful ways to create greater clarity – and therefore patient retention – in your practice.
Let’s first take a closer look at Progress Exams.
Let’s discuss differentiate between Progress Exams and Re-Exams. Progress Exams are quick “Slip and Check” Micro Exams that create an opportunity to gather clinical information – but more importantly – establish greater clarity for patients along their journey.
These “Micro-Exams” differ from a New Patient Examination and Re-Examinations in both scope and complexity. Re-Exams are “Repeats” of the Initial New Patient Examination – and therefore include all of the objective testing that was part of the Initial Exam.
Progress Exams are typically limited to one or two simple clinical studies that deliver value to the doctor and create the opportunity to check in with the patient. These Progress Exams are performed every 12 visits and they are followed by a Progress Report the following visit.
During a Progress Exam, the patients fills out a sheet of questions that serve as a reflection for the patient and education for the Doctor on the patient’s health status. Review these before the Progress Report.
The questions that you ask will not only give you insight as to where each patient is with their understanding of chiropractic, but also “reinforce” important concepts for the patient, especially in terms of their role and responsibility in getting the best results.
Ultimately, the real value of the Progress Exams, and any Re-Examination, can be summarized in a concept known in Behavior Science as the Hawthorne Effect.
In short, humans beings love to be measured. We like when a trusted authority pays attention. It means that what we are doing is important and that someone cares. This is critical to Retention and Progress Exams accomplish this beautifully.
We love to be measured as long as the following criteria are met.
- THAT we are being measured
- WHAT is being measured
- HOW TO INFLUENCE OUR OUTCOMES
- We’ll get GOOD FEEDBACK
So in order to capitalize on the full benefit of the Hawthorne Effect – be sure to be deliberate in your communication around each of these 4 criteria.
Make sure that you will base your recommendations on Objective Findings. These findings should be tested and retested and you will be reporting on them regularly. Everyone does better when they know that they are being measured, so tell them up front – again clarity = better results.
Tell your patients exactly WHAT is being measured will full explanation. It’s also a great way to reinforce the concepts and the language of what I call your “Talk Track”. Teach your patients how to teach others. You will thank yourself later when you are able to avoid constant discussion around symptoms and pain, which is the only language that your patients have been taught to speak when it comes to their health.
Be sure to tell them HOW they can INFLUENCE THEIR OUTCOMES. At the end of the day, everyone wants better results, faster, so tell them how to get them. What should they start and stop doing? Tell them, clearly.
Similar to the Progress Exam, a good Progress Report should be BRIEF.
In fact, I do the reports during Peak Adjusting Hours in the middle of my adjusting flow. Save the long discussions for the re-exams and re-reports. For this purpose focus on the following 3 elements:
- How am I responding relative to your expectations?
- What are we going to be doing moving forward?
- How often will I need to be getting adjusted?
Review the questionnaire with them that they filled out last sessions. Congratulate those patients who are on track with their schedules. Encourage those patients who are struggling clinically and redirect, reconfirm and re-commit those patients that are off-track with their care plan.
Remember the analogy of the patient being like a tire that we find along the roadside. We must lift them upright, get them rolling and run next to them to keep them at speed.
Progress Reports are an ideal time to come along side of your patients and “tap” them along on their journey. Regular, quality communications, especially during Progress Reports are essential to a patient understanding.
And when patients understand chiropractic care – they want chiropractic care.
Remember – what you do is… Remarkable!
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